Health Dept., County Accord Keeps AGH Doctor In Snow Hill

SNOW HILL – An agreement between Worcester County and Atlantic General Hospital will ensure that Snow Hill residents continue to have access to a doctor in their town.

At the request of Deborah Goeller, the county’s health officer, the Worcester County Commissioners Tuesday approved a memorandum of understanding with Atlantic General that will allow one of the hospital’s physicians to use space in the Worcester County Health Department.

“We are a medically underserved area,” Goeller said. “I would like to see us be able to continue with some primary care services from Atlantic General. The hospital would like that as well.”

Goeller explained that the AGH physician currently offering services in Snow Hill — Dr. Lei Gong — would be relocating to Ocean Pines because the building he rented space in was being sold. The hospital had not found a suitable alternative location for a physician to work from in Snow Hill.

Although Peninsula Regional Medical Center will continue to have one doctor in Snow Hill, Goeller said the health department didn’t want to see the town’s physician services cut in half. Gong typically sees 13 patients a day.

“There are some of Dr. Gong’s patients who will follow him to Ocean Pines, but there are other people from Snow Hill that would have trouble with the commute,” she said.

For those people, Goeller proposed allowing an AGH physician to work in space at the health department’s building two days a week. She said she would make sure the physician services would not be confused with any of the health department’s programs. The hospital would also be responsible for the doctor’s equipment and supplies.

“This is really just sharing the space,” she said.

Goeller said providing use of the space two days a week would not interfere with the department’s regular operations.

“We couldn’t accommodate more than that,” she said, assuring the commissioners that the hospital would have to find another location if more than two days a week was needed.

The agreement with AGH would be renewed annually. Jim Brannon, vice president of professional services at the hospital, said he hoped it could be a long-term arrangement.

“We’d like to stay on at the health department,” he said.

Commissioner Jim Bunting questioned the wording of the agreement, which he said was rather open ended. Sonny Bloxom, the county attorney, said that would allow for flexibility. Goeller assured the commissioners the matter had been studied in-depth.